It's a family affair

Danny Sullivan, who grew up just 30 minutes from Palo Alto, isn't the only Sun Devil player who will have a large contingent of fans at Stanford stadium on Saturday. ASU offensive lineman Garth Gerhart, will face his brother and Cardinal tailback, Toby Gerhart, as several of his family and friends, undoubtedly with split allegiances, sit in the stands.

It's has been a trying year for the 6-1 302 Garth Gerhart. He played in the season opener, despite nursing a turf toe injury, just to re-injury his toe on the other foot and sit out the next three games. After gaining his first start of the year, two weeks ago versus Washington State, a re-injury forced him to sit out last week's win against Washington.

Fortunately, chances are that he will see the field against his brother Toby Gerhart; a fact that manages to put a smile on his face in what has been a "rough" 2009 season.

"It's just been one of those years," Gerhart said. "I'm trying new things with my cleats and trying to figure out what's the best thing for (the toes). I'm not meaning to get hurt; I guess it's just happening."

How bad has the lineman's luck been? He went almost the entire game against Washington State injury free, when he stepped on an opponent's foot during the third to last play that afternoon which caused him to be sidelined last week.

"Hoping this was the last time and I'm good to go," Gerhart stated, "and I'm ready to finish out the rest of the season strong."

Even though he's one of the best on Arizona State's front five, that group hasn't really suffered in his absence, as well as in the absence of Matt Hustad who sat out the last three games with his own injury.

"It's going great," Gerhart said concerning the offensive line's performance this season. "We're more of a family on the offensive line than we were last year. We mesh real good this year, we're talking more, communication is good. Thomas (Altieri) and Shawn (Lauvao) are doing a real good job with assuming leadership.

"The young guys and the guys stepping up for the guys that are injured are doing a good job. Brent Good is doing a real good job there and I'm proud of him. He has been working his tail off for the last three years that he has been here and he finally got a chance to show us what he has."

Gerhart remarked that the offensive line is working better as a group this season which is helping cut down the number of sacks from last year, as well as aiding a much improved ground attack.

"We are working as a group better this year, we lifted all summer," Gerhart described, "We spent extra time as an offensive line, went out for dinner. It all pays off in the end. (Dimitri) Nance is doing a great job, they (the running backs) are all doing great and they're helping us out making us look good."

Speaking of running backs, the Sun Devil lineman will square off against older brother Toby for the last time, as the Stanford tailback is in the midst of his senior year. In seven games Stanford's returning starter has collected a league best 897 rushing yards and is second in the conference with 12 rushing touchdowns.

"It's going to be real cool to face my brother again," Gerhart claimed. "He's doing real good this year and I want to see how he will do against our defense, who's doing real good this year. He has a lot more confidence than when he was as a freshman. He was more tentative and now he just cuts loose, running people over, showing that he has speed.

"He's just an all-around back this year."

As the elder Gerhart rushed for 3,233 yards and 39 touchdowns as a senior at Norco (Calif.) High School, it was his younger brother contributing to the blocking and together with his teammates leading their school to the Division V Southern Section championship.

"I wasn't that fast to play (running back)," Gerhart said smiling. "I was content just playing on the offensive line."

Gerhart, much like Sullivan, is scrambling for tickets for Saturday's game. Some of these ticket recipients may wish to see Stanford and older brother Toby win in his last year as a Cardinal, after Garth and the Sun Devils have had the upper hand two years in a row. The ASU sophomore knows that either way a fierce battle awaits the maroon and gold this weekend.

"It's my birthday today (Tuesday)," Gerhart noted. "And he told me last night ‘I'm not gonna take it easy on you guys just because it's your birthday this week.' He's just messing around, making jokes like that.

"I'm proud of him. It's really cool that your brother is one of the top college players (in his position). I'm really excited for him because he's finally getting some national recognition. It seems that he was not getting that much (recognition) being at Stanford and the last couple of seasons haven't been that good. Now they're becoming a top program and I like that he's getting the hype."

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